(1) The legislature finds that access to baccalaureate and graduate degree programs continues to be limited for residents of north Snohomish, Island, and Skagit counties. Studies conducted by the state board for community and technical colleges, the *higher education coordinating board, and the council of presidents confirm that enrollment in higher education compared to demand in this geographic region lags behind enrollment in other parts of the state, particularly for upper-division courses leading to advanced degrees.
(2) The legislature also finds that access to high employer demand programs of study is imperative for the state's global competitiveness and economic prosperity, particularly those degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields that align with the workforce skill demands of the regional economy, that support the aerospace industry, and provide skilled undergraduate and graduate-degree engineers required by the largest employers in the aerospace industry cluster.
(3) The legislature finds that meeting the long-range goal of greatly expanded access for the population of the region to the widest array of baccalaureate and graduate programs can best be accomplished by assigning responsibility to a research university with multiple experiences in similar settings.
(4) Management and leadership of the University Center of North Puget Sound is assigned to Washington State University to meet the needs of the Everett metropolitan area and the north Snohomish, Island, and Skagit county region and the state of Washington for baccalaureate and graduate degrees offered by a state university. The chief executive officer of the University Center of North Puget Sound is the director who reports to the president of Washington State University. The director shall manage the activities and logistics of operating the center, make policy and planning recommendations to the council in subsection (5) of this section, and implement decisions of the council.
(5)(a) Washington State University and Everett Community College must collaborate with community leaders, and other four-year institutions of higher education that offer programs at the University Center of North Puget Sound to serve the varied interests of students in the region. To this end, a coordinating and planning council must be established to be responsible for long-range and strategic planning, interinstitutional collaboration, collaboration with the community served, and dispute resolution for the center. The following individuals shall comprise the coordinating and planning council:
(i) The president of Washington State University, or his or her designee;
(ii) The provost of Washington State University, or his or her designee;
(iii) The president of Everett Community College;
(iv) Two representatives of two other institutions of higher education that offer baccalaureate or graduate degree programs at the center;
(v) A student enrolled at the University Center of North Puget Sound appointed by the coordinating and planning council;
(vi) The director of the council, as the nonvoting chair;
(vii) A community leader appointed by the president of Everett Community College; and
(viii) A community leader appointed by the mayor of Everett.
(b) The coordinating and planning council may appoint other groups, as appropriate, to advise on administration and operations, and may alter its own composition by agreement of all the members.
(6)(a) Washington State University shall assume leadership of the center upon completion and approval by the legislature as provided under (d) of this subsection of a strategic plan for meeting the academic needs of the region and successful establishment of an engineering degree program. The strategic plan must build on the strengths of the institutions, reflecting each institution's mission, in order to provide the region with the highest standard of educational programs, research, and service to the community. The strategic plan must include a multibiennium budget that addresses both operating and capital expenses required to effectively implement the plan. The strategic plan shall be developed with the collaboration of the University Center at Everett Community College and all the institutions of higher education that provide baccalaureate degrees at the University Center, and community leaders.
(b) Center partners must implement the strategic plan with careful attention to the academic and professional standards established and maintained by each institution and by the appropriate accrediting bodies, and to the historic role of each institution's governing board in setting policy.
(c) The strategic plan must address expansion of the range and depth of educational opportunities in the region and include strategies that:
(i) Build upon baccalaureate and graduate degree offerings at the center;
(ii) Meet projected student enrollment demands for baccalaureate, graduate, and certificate programs in the region;
(iii) Meet employers' needs for skilled workers by expanding high employer demand programs of study as defined in RCW 28B.50.030
, with an initial and ongoing emphasis by Washington State University on undergraduate and graduate science, technology, mathematics, and engineering degree programs, including a variety of engineering disciplines such as civil, mechanical, aeronautical, and aerospace manufacturing;
(iv) Coordinate delivery of lower and upper-division courses to maximize student opportunities and resources; and
(v) Transfer budget support and resources for the center from Everett Community College to Washington State University.
(d) The strategic plan must be completed by December 1, 2012, and submitted to the legislature for review. The strategic plan shall be considered approved if the legislature does not take further action on the strategic plan during the 2013 legislative session. The transfer of the responsibility for the management and operation of the University Center of North Puget Sound to Washington State University must occur by July 1, 2014.
(7)(a) Academic programming and delivery at the center must be developed in accordance with the missions of Washington State University, Everett Community College, and other institutions of higher education that have a presence at the center.
(b) Each institution shall abide by the guidelines for university centers adopted by the student achievement council.
(c) Each institution shall award all degrees and certificates granted in the programs it delivers at the center.
(d) The coordinating council described in subsection (5) of this section shall establish a process for prioritizing new programs and revising existing programs that facilitates timeliness of new offerings, recognizes the internal processes of the proposing institutions, and addresses each proposal's fit with the needs of the region.
(8)(a) Washington State University shall review center expansion needs and consider capital facilities funding at least annually. Washington State University and Everett Community College must cooperate in preparing funding requests and bond financing for submission to the legislature on behalf of development at the center, in accordance with each institution's process and priorities for advancing legislative requests.
(b) Washington State University shall design, construct, and manage any facility developed at the center. Any facility developed at the center with Everett Community College capital funding must be designed by Everett Community College in consultation with Washington State University. Building construction may be managed by Washington State University via an interagency agreement which details responsibility and associated costs. Building operations and management for all facilities at the center must be governed by the infrastructure and operating cost allocation method described in subsection (9) of this section.
(9) Washington State University has responsibility for infrastructure development and maintenance for the center. All infrastructure operating and maintenance costs are to be shared in what is deemed to be an equitable and fair manner based on space allocation, special cost, and other relevant considerations. Washington State University may make infrastructure development and maintenance decisions in consultation with the council described in subsection (5) of this section.
(10) In the event that conflict cannot be resolved through the coordinating council described in subsection (5) of this section the student achievement council dispute resolution must be employed.